Android Wear is about to receive a very notable software update, and sources who are reportedly familiar with the smartwatch operating system’s roadmap (via The Verge) say that that it’s going to include support for WiFi among several other new features.

It looks like Google might be moving Android Wear to be more app-centric…

Most notably, the update is expected to bring WiFi support, allowing your Android Wear device to connect directly to a WiFi network and no longer be solely dependent on a tethered phone. Since most Android Wear devices have the hardware for this already, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal for Google to add an option to the settings menu.

The update is also expected to bring gesture controls, which will allow users to interact with their devices in ways beyond just touching the touch screen. Users will reportedly be able to flick through cards and notifications using their wrist, rather than swiping around on the screen.

Finally, and I think this might actually be the most interesting piece of news this morning, is that Google plans to make it easier to access apps and contacts. Previously, Google stood behind the idea that these were purposely buried deep within the operating system—Android Wear wasn’t meant to be app-centric, and most functionality was supposed to be accessible via voice.

Whether it has something to do with pressure from Apple or it’s simply the Mountain View company’s own decision, this last change might mean the beginning of a philosophy change for Android Wear. If more apps for the platform can be made to be powerful and simple utilities, and Google makes these easier to use and access, and WiFi support is added to the mix, this could be a pretty big deal.

Apple just yesterday spent some time at its “Spring Forward” event (check out our post-event roundup) showing off what the Apple Watch is capable of, and now we have word that Google is about to expand its own offerings. Google might not be moving to make Android Wear an exact clone of the Apple Watch, but the device is surely going to put pressure on Android Wear and device manufacturers to keep working on the platform.

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Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.